Google and Jio preview 'affordable' JioPhone Next smartphone for India

The upcoming Google-Jio smartphone will use a version of Android that was specifically designed for the device.

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Image: Google

Jio Platforms and Google are jointly working on a new smartphone, called the JioPhone Next, that is aimed at improving connectivity in India.

Google and Jio first announced they were working together on an affordable smartphone last year, when Google invested $4.5 million in Jio Platforms. 

"Together we are excited to rethink, from the ground up, how millions of users in India can become owners of smartphones," Google said at the time. 

The JioPhone Next will use a version of Android that was specifically designed for the device. It will include features such as Google Assistant, automatic read-aloud of screen text, language translation, and a smart camera, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said.

In providing a preview of the device, Pichai also promised support for future OS and security updates.

Price and hardware details were not made available in the preview, but the companies said more information would be shared when the device hits the market later this year.

Targeted at the Indian market, the new smartphone was created with the aim of improving connectivity in India, where hundreds of millions of citizens currently do not have access to the internet.

"It is built for India and it will open up new possibilities for millions of new users who will experience the internet for the very first time. And we can't wait to show you the device later this year," Pichai said.

On the same day, the two companies also announced entering into a new 5G partnership with each other. As part of that partnership, Jio Platforms will shift its core retail businesses to Google Cloud's infrastructure as part of efforts to achieve better operational efficiency, modernise, and scale for growth, and deliver better performance and experiences to customers.

The partnership will also see Google Cloud provide a cloud offering to manage Jio's 5G network and services, the companies said.

"Cloud solutions [are] a key area where we are collaborating with Google. Jio will use Google Cloud's cutting-edge technologies to power Jio's 5G solutions and for powering the internal needs of key Reliance growth businesses like Reliance Retail, JioMart, JioSaavn, and JioHealth," Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani said.

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